When trying to spot bad arguments or bad theories, it's always helpful to separate constants from variables. Many bad arguments assume that a constant phenomenon is causing a changing result.
Example 1: "Why do they hate us?" The assumption is that we were attacked because Arabs suddenly decided to hate some aspect of our policy or behavior. Easy to take this apart: Hate is a constant in human history. At any time, half of all nations or tribes hate the other half. If hate caused attacks, all 'haters' would be attacking their respective 'hatees' all the time. That's never been the case; attacks happen only when one leader thinks he has something to gain, and thinks he can get away with it. The variable cause in this specific case is that we led Osama to think he could get away with his attack, so that's the problem we need to repair.
Example 2: "School shootings (as in Columbine) happen because kids have access to guns." This is especially weird. 50 years ago, kids had far more access, and indeed often took guns to school casually. The variable must be elsewhere; in these specific
cases, the shooters seem to be participating in a well-formed religion that loves death.
Now: I'm thinking about the Golden Rule as applied to torture. Indeed the Golden Rule works just fine in small communities; within a village or an online forum, we learn quickly how to behave and give if we want to receive respect. But does it work between nations? Should we be making such a big stage production of prosecuting Lynndie England, on the grounds that we want our own soldiers to be treated fairly? Let's look at the constants: For the last century or so, American armies have been trying to treat prisoners decently. Now the variables: What have we received in return? Only the Germans in WW2 treated our prisoners fairly. The Japs, the Vietnamese, Saddam in 1991, and the Arab insurgents in Iraq right now, all felt free to mistreat our soldiers and civilians. Was Germany the only nation that had heard
of our efforts? Nonsense. The German army had its own strict rules of civilized warfare, which were not influenced in the slightest by our behavior. These other nations and tribes did not have such rules, again without any influence or reference to our behavior.
Irrelevant update: Supposedly new brides in Victorian times were advised to keep their minds and bodies above all sexual taint on the rare occasions when it was necessary to engage in certain activities
for the sake of procreation: "Just lie still and think of England." Lynndie gives new life to this old phrase.
Headline: Ga. Woman Found, Reportedly Got Cold Feet
Yet another young female creates a huge stir, gets law enforcement and media working overtime, and turns out to be entirely faking the whole mess. What is it about young females lately? Fake hate crimes, fake disappearances, fake accusations, fake lawsuits.
Is this a natural difference between the sexes? Or is there something about the educational and cultural inputs aimed at young women these days that tends to push them toward such large fakery?
Trying to remember my own younger days, I do think there is an innate difference involved.
Females are the court reporters of humanity, spending a lifetime recording and replaying conversations, often with amazing numbers of layers. "And Heather says that Jimmy says that Jimmy's mom says that her neighbor says...." (Incidentally, the latest slang gets in the way of this nesting. It's easy enough with says
, but zlike
doesn't take subordinate clauses. Try it: "And Heather zlike Jimmy zlike Jimmy's mom zlike her neighbor zlike...." )
Females are also more prone to build a 'backstory' and then to believe it internally. So they have better tools and talents for this sort of project. A male will try lying, to be sure, but he won't be able to keep the story together long enough to believe it himself, let alone fool others. He has enough trouble remembering what he said a minute ago; females can remember what was said on Oct. 15, 1978 at 3:46 PM.
Still the main question remains: what is driving girls to use those tools so heavily right now? Are they picking up ideas or approval from school? From TV? From magazines?
Update, listening to Fox News playing Wilbanks's 911 call in Albuquerque. I forgot the most obvious female 'tool' for successful fraud: The ability to fake weeping (or other needed emotions) on demand.
Is a Bear Catholic?
We finally have an answer to this long-standing philosophical puzzle. The answer is Yes! Benedict XVI had used this bear on his coat of arms as Bishop, and he took it with him to Rome....
The bear refers to a legend about St. Corbinian, who lived in Bavaria around 700 AD. Supposedly Corbinian was preparing to travel to Rome when a bear mauled his pack mule. He converted the bear, which then carried him to Rome. So even if most bears are not Catholic, this one was!
If Rush's interpretation of moves in the Senate is right, sounds like Foreman Rove has been using the branding iron on some mavericks. Goodie!
Local: a man and woman were arrested after holding up a grocery store. The arrest was easy because the woman had 'cased the joint' earlier in the day, by putting in a job application with her right name and address.
Local again: Last night the Spokane city council approved an ordinance giving full benefits to homosexual "partners". This will please the Anti-Civilization Lawyers Union, but it will not please the voters. The council had just finished laying off 50 policemen and firemen because of an alleged budget crisis, then they decide to pay unlimited money for AIDS care. I'll bet an initiative to repeal will be coming along shortly........
I note that yet another campus "hate crime" has turned out to be a self-imposed hoax. Has there ever been a genuine hate crime on a college campus? I haven't heard of one, and I've been watching fairly carefully. There are a few genuine hate crimes elsewhere, but I'm pretty sure that every
single report of vandalism, hate letters, etc. at universities has been a fraud.
On an unusually warm evening, listening to a neighbor using a power lawn mower. It's taken her two hours to mow a level and uncomplicated yard, about 50 x 80 feet. The mower quits every 3 minutes, requiring her to yank, yank, yank, curse, yank, yank, finally catch.... This is the normal procedure with a power mower, of course. In theory, a gas engine is able to keep running; automobiles have had this miraculous ability for at least 80 years. But I've never used or heard a gas mower that goes more than 3 minutes between stalls. So, whenever I've had a lawn to mow, I've used the old non-motorized reel type. It does require just a bit more steady force on level ground, but it's lighter and thus easier to push uphill, and best of all it doesn't need yanking and cussing, and doesn't create noise and smell. Doesn't need gas, oil or spark plugs, either. Just squirt WD-40 into the gears once a year and it's rarin' to go. If your property is large, you certainly need a riding mower or a mini-tractor; but for a typical city lot, you'll save time, money and annoyance with a manual machine.
The original meaning of maverick
was not an admirably independent operator. It just meant unbranded stock: could be cattle, horses, sheep, or (shown here) a Chameleonic Congresscritter.
If we had a Texas rancher for a president, he'd know what to do with a maverick. Wait, we do have a .... but then why doesn't he .... Now I'm confused.
My spokesmodel doesn't understand all this furor about fingers in chili.
Actually, this case is a good sign. A decade ago, false suers and false accusers had total control of the system. Every case, no matter how absurd the claim or how obvious the claimant's bad motives, was treated seriously and had a good chance of success. Things have definitely changed. Suer Ayala is in jail; other famous false accusers in recent months have failed.
Judges do read the newspapers. Congress and public opinion do make a difference, even if it's frustratingly slow. What I don't understand is the alleged conservatives and alleged Republicans who condemn 'immoderate' speech on this subject.
Tyrants, whether in the Kremlin or in our courtrooms, don't hear subtlety.
A bit later: It occurs to me that the components of this post could be reassembled in a different order to generate a comment about the Bolton matter. The same alleged Republicans who disdain 'immoderate speech' about judges also disdain Bolton's tough approach to tyrants, and those same alleged Republicans are perfectly willing to give credence to obviously false and absurd accusations against Bolton.
Yow! Turns out that the 'intellectual fire' I observed in Benedict XVI's face is not superficial. Thanks to One Clear Call (oneclearcall.blogspot.com) for pointing to an academic paper written by Ratzinger in 1996, in which he throws down the gauntlet against relativism, feminism and ecology as substitutes for religion.
Couple of excerpts: We find ourselves, all told, in a unique situation: the theology of
liberation tried to give Christianity, that was tired of dogmas, a
new praxis whereby redemption would finally take place. But that
praxis has left ruin in its aftermath instead of freedom.
Relativism remains and the attempt to conform to it, but what it
offers us is so empty that the relativist theories are looking for
help from the theology of liberation in order to be able to put it
into practice. The New Age says finally: it is better for us to
leave the failed experiment of Christianity and return again to the
gods, because we live better in this way.
Then some dense academese, which I'd probably find easier to follow if I knew the scholars he was refuting ...
and then ... .... hermeneutic access to criticism. This being as it is, the authority
of the Church can no longer impose from without that a Christology
of divine filiation should be arrived at. But it can and must
invite a critical examination of one's method. In short, in the
revelation of God, he, the Living and True One, bursts into our
world and also opens the prison of our theories with whose nets we
want to protect ourselves against God's coming into our lives.BANG!
I'm accustomed to reading academic stuff in the realms of speech and acoustics; what I expect near the end of a paper is inconclusive mumbling about "more research is needed", which of course means "I need more grants." Instead, here's God busting through the page!
The whole paper is found at
One thing I've learned as I grow older: Scrooge's Theorem is emphatically true. Excess, ah, methane definitely generates interesting and well-plotted dreams.
Back in the heyday of the USSR, Radio Moscow made a habit of switching to dark Russian classical music, uninterrupted by speech, when the ruling class was in turmoil from a death or internal coup. This didn't give the listener exact information about the nature of the trouble, but it did tell you that something was wrong. More recently, I've noticed the same 'Borodin Effect' in our own Party media. During the Clinton years, Nightline would sometimes go back 25 years to cover Nixon tapes; sure enough, the next day a new revelation of Clinton's perfidy would come out. It's nice to have such a predictable compass point, even if it doesn't give you direct information. (Of course, a Borodin indication is only useful when you have alternative sources of news; otherwise it alerts you that something is wrong, and that's as far as you can go!)
Thinking about this in connection with the Tom DeLay feeding frenzy, which looks like a pre-emptive Borodin for the new revelations about investigations of Clinton foreign fund-raising.
Sometimes a parody will become so entrenched in common discourse that the original effectively disappears. Often quoted on this day of the year (Lenin's Birthday) is Pogo's statement "We have met the enemy, and he is us." The original was Admiral Perry's "We have met the enemy, and he is ours", which now sounds like a typo. Another is the old song "Hail, hail, the gang's all here; what the hell do we care?" I have no memory of the original!
Is there a literary name for this phenomenon? It's similar, but not quite the same, as a retronym (silent movie, acoustic guitar, Classic Coke, film camera) in which the new form becomes the default or unmarked noun, requiring a marker on the original.
Good parody: Catholic World News shows us how the NYTimes would have reported a somewhat earlier choice of religious leader....
Conelrad was the ancestor of the present Emergency Alert System. Under Conelrad, one radio station in each area was assigned to stay on the air in an emergency. This station would stop transmitting on its normal frequency, and switch between 640 and 1240 KHz at irregular intervals. The idea was to give enemy bombers a moving target for radio direction-finding. Dubious at best, and abandoned in 1963 after both sides had satellites capable of spotting targets visually. Conelrad was not used for weather emergencies and was not tested routinely; I only remember hearing one test.
However, the idea may be metaphorically useful in a different realm. Our internal enemies have their own set of political
target-spotting rules, essentially laid down by Saul Alinsky in his book "Rules for Radicals".
Their bombers follow this Alinsky rule:
"Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it."
Okay, so we know their procedures .... Let's Conelrad 'em. Don't let Tom DeLay stand in one place broadcasting; switch frequencies. Appoint a new Majority Leader and a new Whip. Use the MSM to detect when the enemy's direction-finding pips have 'painted' the new leaders. Switch frequencies again. Rinse and repeat.
Google will give you plenty of info on Conelrad and Alinsky.
A couple of goodies:
On Conelrad ... http://www.westgeorgia.org/conelrad/
On Alinsky ... http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2003/1/7/21053.shtml
Ridin' for the brand
Thinking lately about Louis L'Amour, my favorite conservative philosopher. L'Amour is hard to quote, because he wrote parables instead of pithy epigrams. Every story was about advancing civilization against entropy and savagery. One constant theme was 'riding for the brand', which meant loyalty to the purposes of your employer or belief. Why be loyal? Because that's the best way to improve the breed. Each rancher, storekeeper, town, and religion has its own way of doing things. If too many of the riders, clerks, citizens or parishioners apply those principles loosely or moderately, we'll never learn
which way gives us civilization and which way should be avoided.
So I'm gloriously happy that the Roman Church is ridin' tall in the saddle with its own brand. Over the centuries, this big spread has given us a whole lot of grade-A prime culture and learning, while occasionally palming off some rotten stock. Looks like their new foreman aims to show what the brand stands for, fattening up the good stock and culling the bad. Good for him, good for the church, good for the world.
Update: a couple of irrelevant/irreverent comments upon watching Benedict's first mass in the Sistine Chapel.
Benedict has an interesting face. Something like intellectual fire in those eyes. You don't often see such sharpness in high officials, secular or sacred; the process of rising in a large organization tends to squash it.
Benedict is evidently at home in Latin; crisp pronunciation in the German style, and obviously knows what he's saying. Not so with most of the Cardinals. They looked just as forlorn and lost as any random group of modern church-goers.
Losing Latin was bad for the brand. Church should bring it back. Also, the Vatican really should hire a cantor who can carry a tune, and make a professional-quality hat for the Pope. Leave the guitars and mediocrity to the Protestants; focus on conveying beauty and majesty.
OKC + 10
Just a brief note. I took a [probably unhealthy] interest in that event for provincial reasons; I grew up in that part of the country, and had lived, worked, or visited in all the relevant locations from Fort Riley to Herington to Perry to OKC. Had a passing acquaintance with lawyer Stephen Jones; he had defended a friend of mine in Enid at the start of his career. Jones did a poor job for McVeigh, just as he had done for my friend.
As with the JFK assassination, you don't need a lot of fancy theories to be certain that the FBI stopped light-years short of the whole truth. With JFK, you only need to know that Jack Ruby was a Mafia hitman to explode the notion that Oswald acted alone. When you add the fact that Marina Oswald was allowed to emigrate with Lee, at a time when nobody got out of the USSR without an official purpose, you have all the info you need.
With OKC, you only need to know that Nichols spent long periods in the Phillipines without
his Islamic mail-order bride, to explode the notion that this was a purely domestic operation. When you add in the clear connections to the Elohim City group, you have all the info you need.
In each case it's clear that two groups with parallel goals, one foreign and one domestic, aided the 'lone gunman' to some extent. If you want to embroider beyond that (as several authors including Jones have done), well, there's bread and cheese upon the shelf.
UPDATE: Remarkable essay by Fox's John Gibson this afternoon. First time I've heard anyone in the 'solid media' declare outright that Saddam was involved.
An Okie blogger (college student) has written a research paper that traces down Osama's intellectual ancestry. Turns out to be a direct line from Marx, via the 'brown' (fascist) line of Marxism rather than the 'red' (Soviet) line. I wasn't surprised by the ultimate connection, but I was surprised by the directness.
Nice piece of academic work!
Her blog, which hasn't been very active lately, is here:
When we wonder why American lefties find Osama so attractive, we can't be fooled by surface stuff like women's rights, economic considerations, or freedom of costume. Those apparent goals never happen anyway. The deep affinity is what matters: a love of chaos, destruction, and permanent revolution.
Know thine enemy, part CXVIII
John Batchelor is reporting a huge failure of US intel, which falls into the same old tiresome category: Republicans don't realize that Democrats and reporters are not their NICE BUDDIES AND LOVEBIRDS, but in fact SWORN ENEMIES OF AMERICA.
Batchelor explains the chain of action behind the recent convictions of some al Qaeda operatives on the plot to blow up Wall Street buildings. In short, British intel captured an al Qaeda computer maven back in '03, and turned him. He sent out emails to his sleeper cells in the US, telling them to start the operation, while his British masters were watching and tracing the resulting communications. Classic bit of spycraft, similar to a technique that England had used in WW2 when it captured German operatives on British soil.
American intel, which was informed of the operation, got nervous and gave out the 'Code Orange' warning to those financial centers. Already stupid, but it gets dumber. Comrade Kerry thought this alert was suspicious, coming so close to the election, so Condy Rice decided to call the NY Times to explain what was going on. The Times, being an enemy agent, blew the whole operation wide open; the sleeper cells immediately knew that they were being misled.
I'm trying to imagine Cordell Hull telling Goebbels all about our German intelligence operations. Just can't quite make the image show up in my mind ....
Check johnbatchelorshow.com if your local radio station doesn't carry him. I don't find this story on the site right now, but it will probably appear later.
Frederick Kagan, an army historian, gave an excellent speech in a conference on the future of the Army on C-span. Will probably be repeated a few more times. Kagan makes the same points I was making in my GOC post, but harder, sharper, and better.
The way he puts it: We are a nation at war, but we are not acting like a nation at war.
The infamous WC appeared last week at Eastern Wash Univ near Spokane. (Initially the college admin had stopped him because of 'security fears', then they gave in.)
Today, the Campus Republicans are going to test the admin's commitment to freedom of speech, by holding one of those affirmative-action bake sales. Wish they'd tried something a bit more original.... Nevertheless, the response will be interesting to watch.
UPDATE: Wasn't interesting. The college admin did nothing (showing unusual common sense for school officials!) and a few campus commies staged an equally ineffectual and unoriginal counterdemonstration.
'Nation at war' should also apply to our handling of internal enemies. The original purpose of Executive Orders was to short-circuit balky or rebellious bureaucracies in times of emergency. Just because Clinton misused them is no reason for Bush to avoid using them PROPERLY. This is in fact a time of emergency, and judges are acting on behalf of the enemy. If Congress doesn't have the guts to eliminate the courts where those enemy agents serve, the executive branch should use its own proper power to overrule them.
If not now, WHEN????????????????????
Sometimes it's good to rest the brain from heavy subjects.
Thank Bach for heaven!
I do most heartily bewail the ascendancy of Charles the Halfwit, and do most heartily pray and beseech a LOOOOOONNNNGGGGG and healthy life for Elizabeth Regina, that England may be preserved from utter destruction.
GOC! GOC! GOC!
Ever since the start of WW4, I've been puzzled and irritated by the Bush admin's reluctance to involve the American people in a home-front war effort. What's the goal? Are we trying to show the enemy that we can do this without any strain? "Hey dudes, dig it, we're just cruuuuuuisin along like usual." That may have some minor effect abroad, but I think it's horribly bad psychology on the home front.
A few examples: (1) At the start of the war, the Treasury secretary took great pains to discourage people from buying war bonds. (2) The TSA didn't want to arm pilots, and discourages passengers from 'profiling'. (3) Defense contracts have not increased proportionate to the need. (4) Right now, when citizens are trying to guard our borders (the Minuteman project) we have Bush insulting them, essentially taking the same side as the Anti-Civilization Lawyers Union.
FDR didn't make this mistake. During WW2, the gov't encouraged citizens to help with the war effort in dozens of ways. Specifically, the Ground Observers Corps (GOC) was organized in most of the Allied countries. It didn't receive much financial support, but people were happy to supply their own equipment and build their own outposts, because the administration was supporting them and using their information. Reviving the GOC would give the Minutemen some moral authority, instead of turning them into outlaws.
(Good info and pix on the GOC here: http://www.richmond.edu/~wgreen/goc.htm)
As for the psychology: When people are 'vested' in an effort, they are more inclined to support it. Also, when potential skeptics know that their neighbors are involved, they are less inclined to voice opposition. (Familiar stuff is OK, mysterious stuff is evil. Basic human nature.)
Most important of all, defense contracts give Congressmen some bacon to bring home, which tends to mollify their attitude toward other administration policies. (Not to mention other secondary
benefits like keeping our soldiers supplied with armor and ammunition!)
A fine example just this week was the dustup between Hillary and Dodd over a copter-building contract: (http://www.nypost.com/news/nationalnews/42327.htm)
On C-span a few minutes ago, speaking in a meeting on Religion and Judges. Wow! Competition for Ann Coulter in all departments. Needs to be seen and heard more widely.
Later in the same conference: It ain't just congressmen who need to understand the enemy before speaking. Some hyper-earnest young fellow got up to ask why we don't use the Bible as our constitution instead of all these lowly manmade documents. Gee thanks, dummy. You just gave Ralph Neas a year's worth of "right wing theocracy" talking points.
Just a hint
It occurs to me that R congressmen could use a higher caliber of staff members, or at least some on-tap advice to staff. Clearly their present staff members don't understand the basic nature of the internal enemy; likely some of them are in fact enemy moles. So what's a poor rep to do? Hire expensive consultants? Not needed. Consultants are giving useful advice every day, for free. Thousands of them. Now here's the hint: If you want to know something about dealing with the enemy, you won't find it by reading a newspaper, and you won't hear it from anybody who hangs out in the cool restaurants in DC. You won't get it on TV, and you won't get specific and detailed info on the radio. Are we starting to narrow it down yet? Are we getting warm?
Actually this isn't even necessary. Just repeat to yourself, once a minute during waking hours, the following mantra:
"If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog."
Note to the wobbly: this is not from the Bible, or the Constitution, or any other disreputable source that you've never read anyway. It wasn't said by any of those Neanderthal right-wing Christians. It was said by Harry Truman, who was a Democrat, so it's permissible speech even under McCain-Feingold.
My spokesmodel insisted on giving this little salute to a hero of freedom, who happens to be in DC today to speak to Congress.
Darwin firmly proved
I'm not going to make a habit of using Photoshop here; lots of other bloggers do it better. But this was just irresistible.
Seriously, though, I wondered why WC makes such a point of strolling around in public with a cig. Academia is the modern* home of the bodily-purity code, and Ward knows his codes and ciphers better than anyone. A 'normal' professor who was seen in public with the Devil Weed in his mouth would be banished, regardless of his leftist credentials.
Ah, but Ward isn't normal. He is a Construct. He knows that Tobacco, when used by Ind'n Peoples, is a Sacrament, not a mere carcinogen. It's part of the aristocratic speech code. In the same way that blacks are uniquely privileged to say Nigger and homosexuals are uniquely privileged to say Queer, Ind'n Peoples are uniquely privileged to use Tobacco.
*Of course the original
home of the bodily-purity code is a certain German political movement that began in the 1920's. The fact that Herr Schicklgruber was a vegetarian and environmentalist is neither ironic nor coincidental. Purity is the kernel of genocide.
What's right with Kansas.....
Kansas has passed a tightly written constitutional amendment on marriage. It passed by 70-30; predictably, the county containing Lawrence was the only dissenter. Lawrence (KU) is where the Commies live, of course.
Here's the text of the amendment:
Marriage (a) The marriage contract is to be considered in law as a civil contract. Marriage shall be constituted by one man and one woman only. All other marriages are declared to be contrary to the public policy of this state and are void. (b) No relationship, other than a marriage, shall be recognized by the state as entitling the parties to the rights or incidents of marriage.
Reference to the amendment and its explanation:
Note the careful exclusion of 'civil unions' or other compromise tricks from state
recognition; also note that it doesn't prohibit companies from deciding to give their own benefits to any sort of couple.
Terse writing, whether literary or legal, has power. I admire this little gem, and know that the Kansas legislature, unlike some others I could mention, will have the guts to enforce it!
Historical note: Kansas didn't really follow the 1968 "trade of constituencies", which means that Dems are still sort of blue-collarish, and Reps are still sort of country-clubbish. So the newer correlation of D=Lib, R=Cons doesn't work very well. In some other states, you'd see strong support for life and marriage, and you'd correctly assume total R control. Not so in Kansas. State offices are about equally divided.
This stuff works!!!!
Triazicide Insect Killer Granules, by Spectracide. Says it kills in 24 hours, and it sho-nuff does. Spread a band of it around the foundation, so that the little bastards will bring the granules back into their nest and DIE! DIE! DIE!
The preceding was an unpaid but heartfelt
Don't like 'em, to put it mildly.
The last few years, I've kept ahead of them with pre-emptive application of poison
around the foundation. This spring they got the jump on me, and established a beachhead in the attic, from which they were dropping through a tiny crack in the ceiling tiles onto the HEAD OF MY BED. Stopped that with caulking, but they will undoubtedly find another way to torment me. Hoping the insecticide will help this time.... surely they have to go outside at some point.
To top it all off, Ward Churchill is here in Spokane today.
Bad day at Dry Gulch.
[Much later: These were not ants, they were termites. That's why they didn't go outside. Finally had them exterminated in 2008. Ashamed that I didn't figure it out earlier, didn't stop to ask what's wrong with this picture.]
I haven't found the need to say much about the death of Pope JPII.... partly because as an unbeliever I don't have a horse in the race. [Unlike Michael Newdow, I don't want to force everyone else to share my defect.] And the leftover media have done a surprisingly good job of describing the Pope's cooperation with Thatcher and Reagan, so there's not a lot to criticize there.
Only one CNBC announcer fell back into old habits, uttering a standard phrase that is just so silly that ... oops, I feel a Pictionary coming on .....
Really weird dream
I was a hard-boiled detective, Phillip Marlowe type. A desperate client came to me with a request for some "dirty work". She [of course it's a buxom babe; can't break the genre] had inherited a filing cabinet full of cash from an uncle who ran a semi-legal gambling establishment. Problem was, the uncle had protected his cash from thieves by inserting little embalmed aborted fetuses in each transparent envelope. He had figured that thieves, being the superstitious sort, would rather skip the money than fiddle with such objects. The client knew money launderers who could turn any amount of cash into usable bank deposits, but they weren't willing to engage in such literal laundering!
Strange to think that ideas like this are burbling around inside my cranium, inaccessible during waking hours. Might actually make a good short story.
Overlawyered warning labels are famous for assuming idiotic consumers. Here's one that goes the other way, on a box of light bulbs:
"To save energy costs, find the bulbs with the light output you need, then choose the one with the lowest watts. This bulb emits 710 Lumens."
Ah yes, let me get out my lumenometer, which every household is required to own. Should I measure the desired lumen output in daylight, dusk, or night? With shade or without?
The whole thing is just ridiculous. Only serious photographers have light meters, and I'll bet even a shutterbug wouldn't know how to apply the reading for this purpose.
An older Korean-looking woman got on the bus, and faced the driver.
Lady: DISSA BAWSSA GAW TAW DJAPP-LAPP!
Driver: Um, I didn't quite understand....
Lady: DISSA BAWSSA! DISSA BAWSSA GAW!
Driver: Uh, no, the last part, does this bus go to .....?
Lady: DISSA BAWSSA GAW TAW DJAPP-LAPP! DJAPP-LAPP!
Finally the driver smiled and shrugged his shoulders, and the
lady got on. She was still on the bus at the point where I got off,
so I never learned if she reached the mysterious and tantalizing
land of DJAPP-LAPP.
Zogby & Terri
Via NRO, a Zogby poll on end-of-life preferences, which seems more plausible because it asks a more fair question.
I'll vouch for Zogby's consistent fairness. I've been on their online polling list for several years, and I've never
seen a badly formed or leading question. (They didn't hit me on this particular poll, just to be clear.)
Judge a book by its cover?
Sometimes you can.
Over the years I've noticed a certain facial similarity among leftists, marked by a knotted brow and tight lips. This shibboleth obviously doesn't work with older folks; a farmer who has spent a lifetime squinting into the sun will have a tight brow regardless of politics. But among college-age people it holds pretty well.
What causes that tightness?
The strain of trying to hold together a peculiar set of internally contradictory ideas, all of which contradict plain reality.
I remember the relief when I finally gave up on the whole mess about 20 years ago.
When you start from a theory and try to fit your facts around that theory, you have to spend a lot of time and energy building paranoid "force fields" to insulate the conflicting segments from each other and from actuality.
Life is so much easier when you start from plain observed facts, using theories as tools when they happen to serve a purpose.
I suspect the leftist juggling act is even more strenuous now than it was in the '60s and '70s. Back then, nearly all available input from educational and media sources was essentially Marxist; you had to subscribe to some obscure magazines or search the libraries to find any opposition. Yeah, we bristled missiles against the Soviets, but both sides really agreed on the basics.
Today, Marx is a man without a country. You have to remain inside the walls of Academe or the Beltway to avoid evidence of socialism's murderous failure. The Left has no grand unifying theories; it's stuck with a pastiche of secondary junk, largely installed by Nixon.
Think of Ward Churchill, who combines Affirmative action, Environmentalism, and Detente with the enemy in one neat package? As a bonus, Ward even takes the 'Tricky' in Nixon's usual nickname to new heights.
Like many other bloggers, I took a vow to stick with Terri until it was all over. Something like prayer, I guess.... But now it's time to loosen up again. Not all that easy!
A bit earlier I described Terri's case as a useful polarizer, in that it pulls each person's compass in one direction or the other.
On closer inspection, the visible motion was somewhat one-sided.
Basically, we already knew who was pro-life. Some people took our side for secondary and strategic reasons; they were refreshingly honest about their purposes. The only real surprise to me was Ralph Nader, who appears to have no side motives.
It was the pro-death side that came out of the woodwork, with many surprises. The serious players, like Felos and the Hemlock Society, don't usually take part in public discourse. Their allies in the judiciary and the media were usually silent on the subject, until this case stirred their death-frenzy to a point where they could no longer maintain the facade of normalcy.
Back when I was 9 years old, my father (who was Commander of the local Naval Reserve post) brought home a set of obsolete ship-tracking information that he had been using for training purposes; he wanted to be sure the papers were properly burned. I thought it would be cool to sneak a few of the papers into my closet. Dad didn't think it was cool. For several days after that, I couldn't have stored any government papers -- or anything else -- in my pants. So, in a spirit of mercy and forgiveness appropriate to today's date, I'm glad to see that Sandy Burglar has received a more lenient punishment for stealing more important papers.
When bad things happen, and especially in the wake of some shocking crime, people always ask Why. More specifically, they always say these exact words:
"I just have one question: WHY????"
Well, I just have one question: Why does anyone feel impelled to ask such a dumb question?
There's no real mystery in either situation. For natural disasters, the "because" is always the same. Because some combination of tectonic plates or clouds happened to release plenty of energy at a location where it killed people.
With crimes, an honest answer from the criminal would reduce to either of these two "becauses":
(1) Because I'm stupid.
(2) Because I'm evil.
If you know anything at all about the perpetrator, you know which answer applies.